Near-field communications or NFC is getting a lot of buzz these days with Apple announcing that it will be including the technology in the next iteration of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Apple will be setting the stage for this new technology, opening it up to users in the same way that it has popularized touchscreen devices, mobile app stores and video calling. Google is also spreading the word, with the next-generation version of its Android mobile platform bringing NFC support to future devices.
For those unfamiliar with this technology, NFC enables two compatible devices, like a smartphone and a NFC-tagged poster, talk to one another and exchange information securely. It is similar to the technology used by hotels that use electronic key cards for room access. The difference is that NFC allows for a greater bandwidth of information, thus making the process secure enough for other uses including identity verification and mobile transactions.
Coupon redemption is another use for NFC that many folks are looking forward. If a customer has a coupon, all she needs to do to redeem it is to place her phone beside another NFC-compatible device that will read and authenticate her coupon. It’s that simple: no more printing coupons and crosschecking it with a list. It’s practically the easiest and most secure way of coupon redemption available.
As opposed to other redemption methods, NFC is both easy and reliable. Currently, there are methods that are reliable but not easy like using a desktop to search for deals, printing them out and bringing them to the store. In the opposite end, there are those that are easy but not as reliable like using mobile phone apps that scan barcodes of products, which most of the time are hit-or-miss affairs and often also need a mobile internet connection to work.
For businesses, this type of redemption also poses fewer headaches. Since the redemption is processed in real-time by a coupon partner’s servers, all the pertinent data like store location and time of redemption are captured immediately. Merchants won’t need additional manpower and equipment to process these deals and on top of that, customer information can be logged and tracked for analysis. It also raises the possibility of real-time reports and fine-tuning deals for certain customers like additional discounts to loyal buyers or special gifts to first-time redeemers.
With smartphone adoption poised to break record heights in the coming years, many more people will have access to NFC devices in the near future. This in turn will surely trigger an explosive growth in coupon usage by consumers and coupon adoption by merchants.
This technology gives the promise of both easy and reliable redemption tracking which will in turn make possible a number of more innovative business models related to coupon redemption. OneBigPlanet is excited about NFC as it introduces new possibilities for redemption and allows clients to easily measure the success of their campaigns with real-time validation and reporting.